May 30, 2014

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn (II)

TGIF! How are you? I'm doing well and have been keeping busy as always. A friend's graduation was on Monday and I had a lovely time visiting her. What was one of the highlights of your week? Let me know in the comments!

I really enjoyed last week's reading from the book Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn by John C. Maxwell. It was a great way to start the series! (To read my reflection and some others' comments, please follow this link.) Today, we'll be reflecting on Chapters 3 and 4, which I think go hand-in-hand perfectly because they are about reality and responsibility.
Quote of the week: "It's easier to go from failure to success than it is from excuses to success" (John C. Maxwell).

The whole discussion on humility and the spirit of learning last week helped set a solid base for this week's focus on "Reality: The Foundation of Learning" and "Responsibility: The First Step of Learning." Humility is absolutely necessary in order to see the reality of the situation and thereafter shoulder responsibility for the pain and hurt. We already established that pride is ultimately a blinding force that inhibits us from seeing what we did wrong. Instead, prideful people tend to live in a state of denial and blame others for their misery.

It's important, then, to see the problem, think about it as objectively as possible, and then accept that you were responsible for a measure of the consequences.
How can we see situations objectively?

Maxwell says that people who look at the world realistically know these things:
  1. Life is difficult for everyone.
  2. Life is more difficult for some than for others.
Having a faith that guides me helps me accept this. Why do we encounter pain, loss, and hardship? Because we live in an imperfect world. But just because bad things happen, it doesn't mean that the reality is that we should wallow in self-pity or give up. I've posted before that "The world is full of nice people. If you can't find one, be one." If you look at things realistically, you'll see that there are some things you cannot control. But what you can control is what truly matters. You can decide how to react, what to take away from the bad, and you can decide to stand up for what is right and good.

Responsibility for a situation can be difficult to take because often there are extrinsic and intrinsic factors that often influence it. Psychologists define "locus of control" as how people attribute the causes of the things that happen to them. People with an external locus of control believe that their situations are caused mostly by their surroundings. Those with an internal locus of control, on the other hand, believe that their situations are largely caused due to their own choices and actions. "Which group is more successful? The group that takes personal responsibility. Which people are more content? The ones who take personal responsibility. Which people learn from their mistakes and keep growing and improving? The people who take responsibility" (62-63).

I thought that his list on page 63 was very powerful when he argues that having an external locus of control essentially gives away the choice to control our lives:

Is it true that hating, loving, ignoring, hearing, despairing, hoping--all of these are up to us? What truly matters--our character--is completely our choice. 

As we begin to realize this, we begin to:
  1. Take our first step in learning.
  2. See things in their proper perspective.
  3. Stop repeating our failures.
  4. Grow stronger.
  5. Back up our words with our behavior.
So, what are some steps we can start taking to look at our problems realistically and take the fair amount of responsibility?

Last week, we looked at the Examen to help us reflect and pray for a humble, learning spirit. 

Today, I have a new set of questions that we can ask in the face of some bad situations to help us see what we need to and learn:
  • [In the case of an argument] Why did they do what they did? What would I have done if I were in their shoes? Is there a better way I could have approached the situation?
  • [In the case of a bad habit] Are my priorities straight, and what is the evidence for this? What do I dedicate my time to, and what is taking up all of my time? Am I leading a healthy, balanced life? Do I have enough time to spend with friends and family?
  • [In the case of a death] It is appropriate to mourn, and missing them is inevitable. But, if they were watching me from up above, how would they want to see me? Would they want to see me smile and find peace?
  • [In the case of failure] What were my mistakes? What could I have done better? Why did I want this in the first place? Why should I try again? How should I change my strategy this time?
So this concludes all I have to say about Maxwell's third and fourth chapters. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! Also, please subscribe to Smiles No Matter for future updates. Next week, we'll be studying the fifth and sixth chapters next Friday. Hope to see you then! 

Smile on,
-Riley XO


  1. This was a great article. I feel that I practice most of what you talk about but it was refreshing reading it in such an organized manner.

  2. Nice post! I'm really enjoying this series!

  3. Thank you for your comments! I'm glad you are enjoying the series. And Catalina, these are great habits to practice and I hope you've found it fulfilling so far! :)


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